TODAY'S PAPER
Broken Clouds 41° Good Evening
Broken Clouds 41° Good Evening

VOTING

7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Alverta B. Gray Schultz Middle School.

THE BUDGET

The district proposes a $202,696,927 budget for 2017-18, a 7.15 percent increase from the current $189,167,890. The tax levy would increase 0.33 percent, from $75,684,370 to $75,934,370.

This increase is within the district’s tax-cap limit of 1.27 percent, so a simple majority is required to approve the budget. Officials in the district did not say how school taxes on the average single-family home would be affected.

The proposed budget would fund 46 new positions, including assistant principals, teachers, psychologists, teaching assistants, security aides, as well as more staff for academic intervention services. Officials did not provide information on any salary increases for teachers, citing ongoing negotiations.

THE CANDIDATES

Incumbent Melissa Figueroa and candidates Deborah DeLong and Randy Stith are running for one at-large seat. The term is three years.

Deborah DeLong

BACKGROUND: DeLong, 65, is a 37-year veteran of district schools, serving the past 20 years as assistant superintendent for pupil personnel services. She spent 17 years as a licensed social worker in the district, and three years in that role in the Roosevelt district. DeLong holds a bachelor’s degree from Clark University and a master’s degree in social work from New York University. Her son attended private school.

ISSUES: DeLong, who said she plans to retire at the end of the school year, said key changes are needed to the curriculum for students at various stages of development. A focus of her plan is to promote “hands-on” classroom experiences during the early childhood years; enhance academic intervention services in middle school to ensure that students are reading at grade level; and tailor after-school intervention programs to students’ individual needs. DeLong said the district should embark on a plan to improve facilities, and she said she would work to implement “re-entry” programs for students who were recently incarcerated or living in group homes.

Melissa Figueroa

BACKGROUND: Figueroa, 37, is a property manager and freelance dive instructor. She has a bachelor’s degree from Adelphi University. She has taught preschool and is a former teaching assistant with experience educating adults in night class and elementary school-aged children. Figueroa also is a trustee on the Hempstead Public Library board. She is a member of New York Communities for Change and The Corridor Counts, both of which are community activist groups, and she is a founding member of Church Unleashed.

ISSUES: Figueroa said the district must address overcrowding in its schools. She said she would support a plan to demolish the Marguerite Golden Rhodes School and replace it with another building. She said she also wants “to work with a competent superintendent who will help us bring fiscal order to the district.” Figueroa said she aims to integrate the school into the state’s “Community Schools” model, in which state funding can support services for the area. Figueroa said she would advocate for facility upgrades in the district and ensure that construction contracts are properly vetted.

Randy Stith

BACKGROUND: Stith, 26, works as an emergency room technician at Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre, and as an emergency medical technician at the Northwell Health Center for Emergency Medical Services in Syosset. He serves with the Office of Emergency Management Team in Hempstead Village and as a lieutenant in the Hempstead Fire Department. He has an associate degree from Nassau Community College, and is a lifelong district resident.

ISSUES: Stith said he would advocate for more vocational services for students, such as degree programs for electricians and nursing assistants. He said the district should explore alternative programming for students who “can’t function in the regular class setting.” Stith said the Marguerite Golden Rhodes School should be replaced with another school to help alleviate overcrowding in the district. He added he would support expanded bilingual education services for all district students.

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